©2014 by Tara Van Dyke

Why Hire a Doula?

Whenever and however you give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body, and your spirit for the rest of your life.

Ina May Gaskin, midwife

IMPORTANT QUESTIONS

What's the difference between a midwife and a doula?

A midwife is a trained health professional who has the credentials to provide medical care for a woman's needs in pregnancy and childbirth, including delivering the baby.

 

A doula provides emotional, physical and informational support to the laboring mother and her partner. A doula works alongside an OB or midwife who will deliver the baby. She helps her client obtain information needed to make informed decisions regarding medical procedures. She maintains constant availability to her clients during labor to suggests and provide various comfort measures and position changes to facilitate the birth. A doula focuses on the mind-body connection in the birth process and follows up by supporting the clients in their transition to parenthood.

Will my partner feel left out if a doula is present?

Dads or birth partners tend to feel much more confident and satisfied with their coaching role when a doula is present to encourage and guide! In fact, a doula is there to support and assist the dad as well as the laboring mom. Her continuous presence will free up others in the birthing room to take a rest when needed or get a meal. She will offer suggestions for how to help the mom, and will be sensitive to the amount of involvement the birth partner is comfortable with.

What if I want pain medication or need a C-section?

A doula is there to support the mother in having the birth that she wants. A common misconception is to think that doulas are only for those who desire an entirely unmedicated birth. All birth scenarios can benefit greatly from the continuous, undivided support of a doula. Even with an epidural, there is need for comfort measures, specialized positioning, and informed decision-making regarding interventions.

 

If labor results in a c-section or any unplanned outcome, a doula's emotional support can make a potentially frightening situation into one that is more positive for all involved.

Will a doula make decisions on my behalf?

A doula will never make decisions on a client's behalf. She will support you as you make your own decisions regarding your birthing experience. Her goal is for you to feel empowered to make choices for the care of your own child, and for your family relationships to be enhanced and strengthened.

Does a doula really make a difference?

ACOG (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) published a committee opinion in Feb 2019 titled Approaches to Limit Intervention During Labor and Birth. Their recommendations included the following conclusion: "Evidence suggests that, in addition to regular nursing care, continuous one-to-one emotional support provided by support personnel, such as a doula, is associated with improved outcomes for women in labor. Benefits described in randomized trials include shortened labor, decreased need for analgesia, fewer operative deliveries, and fewer reports of dissatisfaction with the experience of labor."

MY STORY

Wow, I wish I knew what a doula was for the births of my four children. When my first baby was on the way, I read a few books about what to expect and dutifully lugged my pillow and my husband to hospital childbirth classes, but when I finally went into labor 10 days past my due date, let's just say things didn't go exactly as I'd envisioned them. 

The question families ask me most frequently is why I decided to become a doula. The short answer is that new parents need and deserve top-quality, continuous care when they are most vulnerable. The longer answer comes partly from the questions I asked myself after that first labor experience:

How did I feel unprepared when I had read the books and gone to the classes?

Why did we feel so lost and alone even in our highly-rated hospital and with our chosen doctor?

How can new parents feel stronger and more empowered after birth and less traumatized and overwhelmed?

My journey to parenthood included experiences with miscarriage, Pitocin induction, epidural, episiotomy, instrumental delivery, unmedicated birth, and finally a hospital birth attended by my husband, mother, and mother-in-law! I learned a lot along the way about how to find the information and support I needed. I want all parents to have a positive beginning as their baby is born, and a beautiful story to tell for the rest of their lives. I am passionate about the power of family life transitions, and so became a doula and educator to encourage, support, and empower parents in their new roles. 

SERVICE PHILOSOPHY

The process of pregnancy and birth has the power to set the tone for parenting and family relationships for years to come. I believe a supportive community surrounding a family makes for the most positive and confidence-building experience. As a doula, I work in harmony with the medical team to offer continuous emotional and physical support throughout pregnancy, birth, and beyond.

 

Support: I believe a mother has the instincts to do the right thing for her body and her child. I support a family’s right to make choices about their baby’s birth, with full information and knowledge of alternatives. I don’t believe in promoting any one “type” of birth. But studies show that having a doula present at birth can dramatically increase satisfaction in the labor and birth experience.

 

Serve: I believe labor and birth are sacred and transformative. So I am there to serve in any way that eases stress, worry, or fear. While my first priority is for the comfort and safety of the mom, I am also there to serve her partner and the medical team, without interfering or replacing them in their important roles.

 

Strengthen: I believe character traits and deep inner strength discovered in labor can strengthen confidence and family bonds. Our personal stories become an important part of who we are – and birth stories are certainly pivotal and memorable moments in a family’s life. By identifying positive characteristics and beautiful moments in labor, I can help families start their story on a strong and positive note that will ring true throughout their lives.

QUALIFICATIONS

Certification:

Birth Doula (ICEA.org) 2008-present

Bringing Baby Home Educator (Gottman Institute) 2016

Training:

Childbirth Educator (ICEA.org) 2002

Birth & Bereavement Doula (StillBirthday.com) 2015

                                 

Courses/workshops:  

Prenatal Development, Birth Photography, Global Childbirth, Rebozo Techniques, Advanced Breastfeeding Support, TENS/Acupressure, Spinning Babies, Midwifery Today Conference 2018,  

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